Central Africa: Gorilla Conservation Still Faces Challenges

by Apr 1, 2011Great Apes

Kigali — Gorilla conservation efforts are still being hampered by a number of factors that continuously endanger their habitats and life in general.

This was said, Tuesday, by a team of experts during a technical Committee meeting in Kigali to discuss the conservation of gorillas and their habitats.

The two-day meeting is aimed at discussing various achievements, challenges and set the way forward with regard to the Gorilla Agreement of the convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (UNEP/CMS).

The agreement that came into effect in 2008, was signed by six partner states of; Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, DRC, Gabon, Nigeria, and Rwanda.

Angola, Cameroun, Equatorial Guinea and Uganda who are represented in the meeting are yet to ratify the agreement.

Experts from ten countries who presented their countries’ status on the conservation, noted some of these challenges poaching in protected areas, human communicable diseases, and war and conflicts in countries home to these species.

Others pointed out were human-wildlife conflicts which negatively affect either of the parties, poor infrastructure and limited capital development budget for the sector and inadequate research in some of the countries.

Rica Rwigamba, who heads the Tourism and Conservation department at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said the Gorilla population in Virunga Massif, shared between Rwanda, DRC and Uganda, had increased by 26.3 percent, according to last year’s census.

She said that Rwanda had set a model for successful trans-boundary regional cooperation for others to emulate.

“Through research, census, medical care to the Gorillas, and awareness campaigns among surrounding communities, we have managed to convert former poachers who now participate in the conservation programmes,” she said.

Rwigamba added that by adapting some of the lessons from mountain gorilla conservation, the success story could be replicated across central Africa and other places with the species.